So this came to me as I re-watched the first couple of episodes. The first thing that my muse started to question was how would Lillian just let Gabriel run off to look for Amelia in Zurich? I mean she `veted`Riley for months before she hired her to protect him! Not that I spend much time on it but I think him being under... a surveillance detail(as Riley put it in this story) would seem more likely! Plus three weeks seemed like a long time for Gabriel to be running around by himself looking for his wife, so I shortened it a bit.
My muse also just couldn`t let go with what happened between the last of episode 2 and when Riley found Gabriel at the start of episode 3... I hope you enjoy what she came up with!
Disclaimer: Nope don't own! Just playing in the sandbox!
Absent With Out Leave
As music thumped in the back ground the ex- Secret Service Agent knew this wasn't her normal routine. But hell, what in the last month had been normal? She'd started a new job, one quote "She hadn't applied for or known about!" How the hell had she even been noticed for such a job… oh right, she was the youngest woman to get to work the Presidential detail! So was she assigned to watch the President? His wife? His kids? Nope! She was saddled with an egotistical, insubordinate, reckless, SOB with a lunatic(as well as a terrorist, she might add!) of a wife who had been missing for Six years!
Grabbing the glass from the bar she tossed back the amber contents and shivered as the burning liquid raced down her throat. Signalling the barkeep for another she glanced in the mirror above the bar but not seeing anyone she knew or any that looked threatening she returned to her drink. Feeling sorry for herself wasn't something she did very often so she wasn't surprised she didn't recognize anyone. Plus this wasn't a part of Washington she would normally be in so none of the agents she usually worked with and hung out with were here.
This month had definitely been one for the record! She'd been shot, kidnapped, flown half way around the world, nearly blown up and jumped out of a six story window! And those were just the highlights! Not to mention the two weeks of passive surveillance of her asset as he run around a foreign country looking for clues to his wife's where abouts! Too bad the woman hadn't just stayed missing…
"We are defined by the actions we take…" Wasn't that what her new boss had said? Well why did she feel so shitty about that action then? Sure it had been the right one but she just couldn't get the look of anguish on Gabriel's face out of her mind. The pain in his eyes had seared a hole in her heart… she had put that look there… By tackling him out of that window she had saved him but at what cost? She had done her job… those words tasted so sour at the moment. The government "chip" was safe but what if the man was broken?
Looking at the clear amber liquid in the glass she was absently spinning in her hand she tossed half of it back. The burn was a little less intense this time. What if Gabriel couldn't get over losing his wife, again. What if he couldn't claw his way through the agony she seen in his eyes? She had seen how much Amelia meant to him, she had even agreed to look the other way when he wanted to look for her thinking that if he could just find her… The old pain of her broken childhood resounded in her heart… if only her father had cared half as much about her mother then he wouldn't of left her mom for that nurse and she wouldn't of had to…
No! This was not about her! Tossing back the rest of the whiskey she signalled for another. Still though she couldn't deny that when she seen how much Gabriel loved Amelia it made her want to do something to ease his pain, to help him find her, to find happiness. Now, that was impossible. Amelia was dead, she wasn't happy about that but she also wasn't that sad. The woman for whatever reason had decided to commit an act of terrorism on American soil putting over a hundred lives in danger. She had only ended up killing herself but she may have emotionally, mortally wounded her assignment… and that kind of wound no amount of medical help would fix.
"Your assignment is to not only protect Gabriel Vaughn from danger both foreign and domestic but also from becoming too caught up with finding his wife." Riley snorted. Yeah she had done a bang up job on that! This time the amber liquid seemed to warm her from the coldness that had gripped her since leaving Vaughn in the lab. Not enough though to keep her from shivering even now. She knew she would take the haunted look in Gabriel's eyes with her to her grave. It was a look she never wished to see again.
She couldn't help but wonder a bit about why Strand had agreed to let Vaughn run halfway around the world tracking down that lead on Amelia. After she had been so adamant about Riley doing her job and keep Gabriel on the straight an narrow. Then to allow him to go with only a surveillance detail… With a sigh she knocked back the rest of the amber liquid in her glass. One thing you learned in the Secret Service never ask questions! You were there to protect… maybe that is why she wasn't cut out for the Presidential detail… She was always bubbling with questions, even if she had learned to suppress them.
The vibrating of her phone alerted her to an incoming call. She thought of just ignoring it. What could they do to her? Fire her? She'd already screwed up this assignment royally what could it hurt to fuck it up a bit more? With an agitated sigh she pulled her phone out of her pocket to at least check the caller id. Maybe Vaughn wanted to off her after all… or maybe it was Strand and she was going to fire her… It took a moment for the name to sink in. Pressing the accept button she was already heading for the bathroom so she could hear better over the music.
"Doctor Cassidy what can I do for you?" Old habits died hard, she was after all still an agent.
"Riley! Thank god! Listen is Gabriel with you?"
In those few words the alcoholic buzz cleared and she straighten her shoulders as both training and concern washed over her. "No… No he's not. Did you try his apartment?"
"Yes… and he's not there nor is he answering his cell… I don't want to say more over an open line. Come to Nelson's apartment, do you know where that is?"
Already heading for the door Riley answered, "Yes. I'll be there in twenty!"
Hailing a cab she quickly sent a text to Vaughn's cell but even by the time she arrived at the apartment Dr. Cassidy's son had in the city it hadn't been viewed. Ignoring the elevator she opted to take the stairs deciding the exertion would help clear the alcohol from her system faster. Reaching the fourth floor she only had to knock once before the door was opened by the Doctor himself.
"Riley! Thank god! Do you have any idea where Gabriel might be?"
"No. The last time I saw him… He was in the medical lab at CyberComm. He was a little, upset with me… I thought I should give him some room."
Doctor Cassidy was nodding his head as he wrung his hands in agitation. "I warned Lillian something like this could happen! I told her that Gabriel was obsessed with finding Amelia… and if he did and something happened…"
"Why on earth would you still go ahead with it then?" Riley asked angrily though she suspected why.
"The gene mutation… it's so rare! And to have someone with Gabriel's military training and skill. Well we just couldn't NOT use him… I had just hoped that things would turn out differently! The likely hood of Amelia even being alive after so long…" The stricken look on the Doctor's face made Riley realize how bad the doctor felt about what happened to Gabriel as well.
"You say you looked at his apartment?" Deciding to forgo the blame game she switched into search mode.
"Yes. When Nelson and I left we knew Gabriel had left as well so I asked Nelson to swing by his apartment… you know to see how he was doing… When we got there no one was home. I didn't think too much of it… knowing how upset he was…"
"So when we came back here dad tried to call him… when he didn't answer," Nelson spoke up as he looked up from a laptop that he had open on the table. "We left a message… but Gabriel always answers when dad calls… when we didn't hear from him in an hour…"
Doctor Cassidy took over again. "I had Nelson try to track him… but his cell is turned off and even his…"
Riley had a bad feeling she wasn't going to like where this was going.
"His tracker… in his chip."
"You have a tracker, in his chip?"
"This is a multi-billion dollar piece of technology… of course there is a tracker in it!" Nelson said in an exasperated tone.
Riley just shook her head not sure what to say.
"But of course we had to be able to turn it off if need be…"
"So now he's turned the tracker off as well?" Riley seen them nod in worry. "And you have no idea where he has gone?" They shook their heads.
"Gabriel was told to only turn it off in an emergency!"
"Does Lillian know?" Riley asked as she watched her career go down the toilet! Yup! New detail! Shot, kidnapped, jumped out of a sixth story window and now her charge was missing! Yup this was turning out to be one hell of a month. Maybe she should of just stayed at the bar and drank herself under the table!
"No! And I don't plan on telling her until I have to!" Riley just stared at the two Cassidy's as if they had four heads.
"So let me get this straight you aren't going to tell the head of Cyber Command, our boss! That Vaughn has disappeared? Don't you think she will notice?" Exasperation filling every word.
"Well of course she will notice… in a few days but maybe we can find him before then?" There was hope in Doctor Cassidy's voice as well as a bit of desperation. "He's like my son Riley. I need to find him!"
Wondering if she was going to be fired for NOT reporting that her assignment had disappeared or would it be for the unauthorized search she was now going to help undertake. "Alright. So you say you were at his apartment, did you go inside or just knock?" All business, her voice was crisp and serious as she started going over where to look, what information they could get without going to CyberComm and how they could go about searching at the government facility without raising too many red flags all at once.
Nelson was a huge help, his expertise with a simple laptop helped them search the less secure webcams and systems around the city. Riley headed over to Gabriel's apartment to see if he was just hiding out in there as well to see if he had taken some of his clothes or personal items. This might give them an idea how long he planned on being gone, if he had thought that far ahead.
The search of Vaughn's apartment turned up nothing. His bag that he'd taken with him to Zurich was still in his bedroom and as far as Riley could tell he hadn't taken anything with him. Of course it was just a cursory look but still she was fairly certain that nothing was missing from the apartment. Nelson had hacked into the apartment's security cameras and seen video evidence that he had returned only to leave less than five minutes later with nothing in his hands. Securing the door once again she quickly raced up to her new apartment. She had found it before she had left for Zurich but hadn't yet had time to fully unpack. Not that she had a lot of personal possessions but still she wanted to make it look lived in. After a quick shower and a change of clothes that she'd actually had time to unpack, jeans and a t-shirt which would be much more conducive to looking for the missing man then her business apparel, she caught a cab back to Nelson's.
By that time they had found the cab he'd hailed and seen he had gone to the bus depot and boarded a bus for New York. Though as they continued to search along the buses path they never did find where he got off.
With a sigh Riley said, "If Gabriel wants to go off the grid then it is going to be hard to find him." It was what they were all thinking but hadn't said up until then. Grabbing her cell she put in a call to the bus depot and after a few minutes found out that a man matching Vaughn's description had asked to get off the bus in between stops. She asked where and then sighed, it had been along a lonely stretch of road far from any houses or businesses.
They continued to search all through the night and the sun was just cresting the horizon when they knew that to search farther they would need to go to CyberComm. They decided that the risk of running into the director was slim on a Saturday morning. When they reached the facility they headed for a small communication room that was empty and expanded their search parameters using the full resources available to them. Time slipped by but they were too busy to notice as they checked air lines, bus depots and trains. When these came up empty they started on car rental companies, cabs and even atv rental places thinking maybe he was going to head into the woods.
Finally completely exhausted and with not a single lead early Sunday morning they decided to call a break and go get some sleep. Riley was going to go and personally drive the bus route they knew Vaughn had taken and the other two were going to come back and keep searching.
The drive on Sunday turned up nothing, not a single clue even though she questioned the bus driver personally as well as a couple of passengers who had been on the bus with Gabriel. No one could tell her anything. It was after dark Sunday night when she arrived back at her apartment. Unable to sleep she headed over to Vaughn's apartment to start a more thorough search.
Opening his door she just stood for a moment, she had only been in his apartment a couple of times, other then her search, late Friday. The apartment had an empty feeling to it that bothered her or maybe it was the fact that she was exhausted. Closing the door she started her search looking for anything that might help her figure out where he had gone. A search of the living room and kitchen turned up nothing, nor the bathroom. Saving his bedroom for last in hopes she might not have to invade his privacy like that she reluctantly began with his dresser. It wasn't until she reached his closet that she found much of anything to give her a clue. His shirts and sport coat were hung neatly but it was a shoe box shoved into the corner almost buried under a couple of pairs of old running shoes and a gym bag that caught her eye. Picking the box up her phone vibrated and she answered it on her way out into the living room to sit on the sofa.
"Neal here." He voice was raspy due to tiredness.
"Riley, have you found anything?" It was Doctor Cassidy and he sounded just as tired as she felt.
"No, nothing yet. I thought I'd search his apartment. Maybe find something to at least point us in the right direction."
"Good idea. Nelson and I are heading home. There isn't anything more we can do here maybe a good night's sleep will help us." She could hear the Doctor walking as he talked and could imagine him walking out of CyberComm.
"Yeah I'm just going to finish looking here and then I will head home too."
"Riley," The Doctor paused for a moment then continued with a gentleness in his voice that she'd never heard from him before. "Thank you. You are a good friend. Gabriel is a fool if he doesn't realize it."
The odd statement took her by surprise and it took her a bit to reply. "I'm just doing my job Doctor…"
With a small chuckle the Doctor interrupted her. "Sure you are. That's why you are doing all this on your time off. Get some sleep Riley. Tomorrow we will have to face Lillian!"
"Yeah thanks for reminding me Doc!" Riley grumbled but there was no real heat in her words. The Doctor and his son had been searching all weekend for their missing friend right along with her. The fact that there was a multi-billion dollar government chip in Vaughn's head had not been behind their exhaustive search.
Sitting down on Gabriel's sofa she opened the shoe box from his closet. It was filled with all sorts of things. A napkin from his wedding as well as one of those little frilly decorations that one might find on the end of a church pew. A slip of paper with a telephone number on it, along with Amelia's name and a big happy face with a message of call me written clearly in a woman's handwriting, possibly Amelia's! Plus there were several other things that looked like mementos, a couple of bar coasters(the kind that bars put under drinks to keep the condensation from getting on the tables) and a dog eared match book with Spanish writing on it.
There were also a fair number of pictures and she began flipping through them. Some of just Amelia, a couple with an older woman she was sure was Gabriel's mother. There were a fair share with both Gabriel and Amelia from their wedding, some that looked like before and a few after by the looks of the wedding rings she could see on their hands. But nothing that stood out, nothing that shouted of a place he might go.
Frustrated and tired she put the stuff all neatly back in the box and put the lid on. Then she just sat there for a few minutes looking around at the few furnishings that were in the apartment, sparse would be a good way to describe it. Then she thought of her own apartment. If Gabriel's was sparse then hers was bare. The few boxes with her stuff that was still unpacked would do little to make her apartment look lived in. Rubbing a tired hand over her face she pushed up off the sofa and headed to her own bed hoping that tomorrow they would have better luck.
Bright and early the next morning Riley rolled out of bed even before her alarm went off. She had slept but it had been restless her mind refusing to give up on a thought that kept nagging at the back of her mind. Donning her running gear she headed out for her morning run hoping that the exercise would help her think. By the time she was back an hour later she just couldn't shake the feeling that she had missed something so after a quick shower she headed back over to Gabriel's apartment.
Letting herself in she sat down once again with the shoe box full of his memories. Flipping through the pictures a couple of them seemed to grab her attention and she put the others down and stared at the two in her hand. She could tell they were taken with a cheap disposable camera but they showed a happy couple who looked like they were laughing without a care in the world. As she studied the picture closer it was the back ground that caught her eye, a car sat on a cobblestone street with a string of cans tied to it's bumper part of a 'Just Married' sign could be seen on the back of it as well. Turning the picture over she seen that in a woman's neat hand writing it simply said Honeymoon.
"Well it might be a place to start…" she mumbled to herself. "Now if I could just tell where…?" Looking through the rest of the photographs she didn't see any that gave her a better clue. The tattered matchbook caught her eye and she picked it up again. Cantina de- amigos was printed on one side. Turning it over in her hands then opening it. On the inside was an inscription in Spanish… "Best homemade tequila in Mexico!" she read aloud in English.
Nodding she quickly snapped a picture with her cell of the two photographs of Gabriel's honeymoon and a picture of the matchbook before putting it all back in the shoe box and put it back in his closet where she had gotten it.
Twenty minutes later she was entering the same small communications room she had been in on Saturday with the Cassidy's only to find the two of them already there. She wasted no time in filling them in on what she found and they immediately started to search for the location. First running a search on where Gabriel and Amelia went for their honeymoon. It took them sometime but they finally found it and then they caught a good lead. One of Vaughn's aliases had used a ATM in Mexico yesterday.
It was all Riley needed and she was immediately booking a flight to Mexico. All she needed was to make a quick trip down to her locker at CyberCom for the packed bag of travel supplies she would need and she would be on her way.
"Crap! Lillian's coming!" Nelson yelped just as Riley was about to head out the door of the communications room, his alert program he had running had just beeped.
"Wait! I'll hold her up! Riley you get to Mexico and bring Gabriel back!" Doctor Cassidy cried as he grabbed Riley's arm to stop her from going out before him.
Not really relishing a run in with her boss Riley nodded and then after Doctor Cassidy left she slipped out the door and down the opposite hallway leaving the Doctor to deal with Strand.
"What do you mean Gabriel is missing? Where the hell is he?" Lillian, the director of Cyber Command demanded as she stood behind her desk glaring at the fidgeting doctor.
"I told you something like this might happen! He is a man! He just lost his wife!" Doctor Cassidy said as he wrung his hands.
"She was a traitor to…" Lillian began but the Doctor cut her off.
"And you and I both know that doesn't mean a thing! Gabriel spent the last six years looking for her! Then he lost her… for good!"
"Where is he?" Lillian demanded in a tight voice.
"I don't know!" At the look of disbelief on the Director's face he explained. "Look Nelson and I went looking for him Friday night…"
"What! He's been missing since Friday night and you are just telling me this NOW!" Lillian snapped.
"Yes, like I said Nelson and I went to his apartment to see him and he was already gone…"
"I thought there was a tracking program…"
"Lillian, he turned it off. He is upset about Amelia and…" the Doctor tried to explain.
"He -Turned- It- Off!?" Her voice was both incredulous and angry all at once.
"Yes Lillian! He turned it off! And don't act so surprised! You know as well as I do what Amelia meant to Gabriel! He needs time to grieve! To mourn the loss of his wife. No matter what you or I thought of her, he loved her! He is not a machine! You knew he wasn't a machine when you signed off on putting a chip in his head! So don't go getting upset that now! Right now, he needs some time to grieve for that loss! He will come back, it may take some time but he will come back. Just give him some time! Please!"
Sighing Lillian shook her head in surrender, what the Doctor was saying wasn't news to her. She had even half as expected as much. Though she had no intention of letting the Doctor or anyone else know that. "I am not pleased that you kept this from me Shannon." She gave him a hard stare. "However I am not without a heart. I will give him as much time as I can. That being said I need to know where he is! Where is Agent Neal anyway? Does she not know where he is?"
"Now don't you go giving that girl a hard time!" Cassidy could see the Director was gearing up to tear a strip off the ex-Secret Service agent. "She has been helping us look all weekend!"
"So she doesn't know either?" Lillian could feel her blood pressure starting to rise once again. "What the hell do you think I assigned her the job of protecting Vaughn for if she isn't going to do it?"
"Lillian! That girl had to make the decision to save Gabriel! From Amelia I might add… I think she made the right decision to give him some room." He added under his breath, "Before one of them killed the other one!"
"That is no 'girl' she is a…" Lillian started but again Cassidy cut her off.
"I know exactly what Riley is! And she is one amazing young woman! Who might I add is on her way right now to follow up on a very promising lead."
Lillian stared at the older man for a full twenty seconds before she finally assented to what the doctor said but not before having her final say. "Yes well she had better find him before we need Clockwork or there will be hell to pay! And my head won't be the only one on the chopping block!"
Lillian was true to her word. She did give Vaughn as much time as she could. That time ran out though when a CIA analyst went missing the next day with a mass storage device.
A/N So there is what my muse came up with. Please excuse the mistakes! I read it over and tweaked it many times but it hasn't been beta'd so all the mistakes are mine.
This is the second one-shot I have ever written. I love story fillers and my muse agreed that one should be done for here! If you see any mistakes or errors let me know!
Thank you for reading!